Chesterton Tribune

New TIF district created to fund Ind. 49 Utility Corridor

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It’s official: the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission has created a new, second, tax increment financing district, this one south of the Indiana Toll Road, with the idea of securing a revenue stream by which to fund the so-called Ind. 49 Utility Corridor.

At its meeting Monday night, the commission voted 4-0 twice: first to confirm a “declaratory resolution” adopted in January which amends the original economic development plan formulated more than 10 years ago when the first TIF district was established; and second to confirm another “declaratory resolution,” also adopted in January, this one actually creating the second district. President Ed Schoenfelt was not in attendance.

Break those resolutions down.

The first one adds as TIF eligible projects the following: roadway improvements, including signalization, widening, and re-surfacing; and the installation of natural gas, sanitary sewer, stormwater, water, and fiber optic infrastructure. None of the original TIF-eligible projects has been removed from that list, Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann noted.

The second resolution is actually more interesting, as it fixes a price tag for the contemplated improvements--$5 million—estimates that 200 permanent jobs would be created by those improvements, and projects as a result of the improvements an increase in the town’s total assessed valuation of $14 million.

No one spoke in opposition to either resolution at a public hearing which preceded each vote.

Heather Ennis, executive director of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce did, however, voice her support of the two resolutions. “They are in strong support of economic development and I think that’s exactly what we need in this community,” she said. “Companies looking to locate in this area are looking for improved land,” Ennis said later. Development of the Ind. 49 corridor would make the property “considerably more attractive.”

The new TIF district is located along both sides of Ind. 49 south of the Toll Road and comprises around 140 acres of land informally known as the Rossman and Pope properties.

The commission is envisioning primarily commercial and industrial development in the new TIF district, Lukmann observed. Should there be any residential development, though, no property-tax increment would be captured by the district.

At its own meeting later Monday night, the Town Council voted unanimously to encourage the Redevelopment Commission to proceed apace with the Ind. 49 corridor project.

2011 Projects

In other business, members voted 4-0 to approve a list of projects for this season submitted by Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg. Total estimated cost: $228,741.

The list:

•Re-paving East Porter Ave. between Ind. 49 and the water tower. East Porter Ave. beyond the water tower falls outside the TIF district. Estimated cost: $84,698.

•Re-paving the southbound lane of North Calumet Road between Grant Ave. and Indian Boundary Road. The northbound lane will be re-paved courtesy of Indiana-American Water Company, which is currently installing a new water main there. Estimated cost: $93,543.

•Replacing sidewalk along the west side of South Calumet Road from Lincoln Ave. south to the alley; and along North Calumet Road from Grant Ave. to Wabash Ave. Estimated cost: $12,000.

•Installing battery backup for two traffic signals along Indian Boundary Road east of Ind. 49. Estimated cost: $13,000.

•Upgrading the traffic signal at the intersection of South Calumet Road and Broadway. Estimated cost: $12,500.

“I personally don’t see anything on this list that’s frivolous at all,” Member Sharon Darnell said. “I see it as investing in our infrastructure.”

Member Jim Ton, on the other hand, wanted to be sure that asphalt prices for the re-paving have been locked in at last year’s price, thanks to an agreement earlier this year with the asphalt contractor. Schnadenberg said that they have been. “That’s key to my support here, that we locked in those prices,” Ton said.

“I’ve just gotten busier,” Schnadenberg joked after the vote.


Posted 3/29/2011